July 25, 2012
A survey reported Tuesday at AIDS 2012 showed that 63% of U.S. dentists would be willing to offer rapid oral HIV testing at their dental practice or clinic. As presenter Lisa Metsch of Columbia University pointed out, expanding HIV testing to dental care settings could help reach people who are not getting tested elsewhere.
In fact, a 2010 article coauthored by Metsch observed that 70% of the 3.5 million U.S. adults who have never had an HIV test and who report engaging in behaviors that put them at risk for HIV have had recent contact with a dental provider.
Testing for HIV wouldn't be beyond the pale for dental care settings, Metsch said, noting that many of the 1,802 dentists who replied to the survey already offer hypertension screening using a blood pressure cuff. "Why not take on HIV testing?" she asked. Indeed, among survey respondents who already offer screening for oral cancer during dental visits, 75% were willing to add rapid HIV testing to their menu of services.
Metsch acknowledged that further investigation is needed into dentists' and dental patients' willingness to pursue HIV testing in this particular health care setting, and into the potential cost-effectiveness of such programs.
Still, she concluded, dental visits represent an untapped opportunity to increase HIV status awareness, link newly-diagnosed people with care and treatment, and normalize HIV testing.
No comments have been made.
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